Having a fantastic product, designed to save your prospects time and money, improve performance and productivity, make them more agile or competitive, and drive business success is not enough. In fact many enterprise customers would happily turn down the opportunity to save millions of £s, $s or €s rather than risk business operations and revenue by introducing new tech solutions.
Why? Because introducing new tech products is time consuming, upsets the status quo, and could potentially disrupt normal business operations and ultimate cost them money. Many are ‘once bitten, twice shy’. They’ve gone through arduous procurement processes to introduce a shiny new product that promises the earth; they’ve upset colleagues or key stakeholders by insisting that the new solution is better what they’re currently using; and then it’s failed to deliver.
The reasons why it failed to deliver are immaterial – whether because they were miss-sold, poor implementation or lack of buy in – they’re not going to risk it again. This results in an ethos of ‘if ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, and frustration for those of us trying to sell to enterprise customers!
Time and energy are also key friction points. Even when a decision-maker can see a compelling value proposition, they may be put off by the amount of time and energy it will take them as the key sponsor to push through the procurement process.
These problems are compounded further if the product you’re selling is new to the market, unproven.
So, should we all give up and focus on smaller companies or can we make enterprise sales work?
Here are my thoughts…
Use Pricing and Scalability To Your Advantage
I was recently reading an article about one of the challenges of SaaS for IT departments. It was discussing how pricing and accessibility was enabling different departments to bypass IT and procurement when introducing cloud solutions, and how this impacts on security and IAM.
What happens is that a specific department – such as sales or marketing – purchases a SaaS tool for their team using their departmental budget rather than applying for IT budget. It’s much like the shift from mainframe computers to PCs where individual departments could bypass IT, and any barriers they might put up, and just go out and buy a bunch of PCs with their own budget.
In the examples cited by the article, this created a data security issue for IT when sensitive business applications were being moved to the cloud without their knowledge. However it is resolvable, and presents an opportunity for the enterprise sales rep. If your SaaS tool can be introduced securely to a smaller number of users (less risk adverse users) without having to jump through countless hoops to get there, you then have an opportunity to nurture a select group of champions to help roll out your product across the organisation.
Instead of trying to sell your product to key decision-makers high up in the company hierarchy who are more risk-adverse and don’t want to change the status quo, how about selling it to a small group of users who will actually use your product?
While your products’ overall compelling value proposition may be to save enterprises significant amounts of money, its’ value to users within an organisation is generally easier to sell.
With this in mind you may want to change your target prospect and sales approach from the CEO or senior board member, to the employees actually using the product. Your sales and marketing content should then be aligned with their needs and motivations, which are likely to be different to the business’s objectives.
For me this means understanding the needs of sales reps and marketing teams – the people who actually use BuyerDeck – and I don’t have to worry so much about the needs of the Chief Exec, Chief Procurement Officer or anyone else in the higher echelons of an enterprise. I know that if I can sell to the people who will use our product*, get buy in and results, they will then sell the product to the rest of the company. From small acorns mighty oaks grow.
Understanding the needs of your buyers at different stages of the sales cycle is essential. To this end we have created a Buyer-Centric Sales Cheat Sheet that shows how to add value at each stage of the sales process. Download your copy here.
If you’ve got experience of enterprise sales, especially selling new tech to risk adverse buyers, please share your thoughts and insights in the comments.
* We’re offering sales reps a Proof of Concept money back guarantee when they sign up for BuyerDeck. If you’re interested message me here.
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